February 17, 2014
Photo of words of drugs used in sports

Doping in Sports: Good, Bad or Ugly?

Athletes use drugs in sport to improve their performance. It’s really as simple as that. In 100-meter track times at the elite level, times range from 9.77 seconds for first to 9.98 seconds for fifth. That is a difference of 2 percent. What might you do to make up 2 percent?

The Bad

There are many different ways of doping. Consider the practices of transfusing one’s own blood cells back into your system or increasing your red blood cell count by using pharmaceuticals like EPO. Then add using muscle-building anabolic steroids, growth hormone, or insulin. Some athletes use depressants for sports that need more of a steady hand like shooting sports. Others use stimulants if the sport requires a quick burst that amphetamines and other meds will provide.

The Ugly

The cover-up by management, unions, and athletes themselves prolong the agony of some athletes when they do test positive. Cyclist Floyd Landis, who tested positive, swore his innocence, and the community backed him for more than a million dollars for his defense. He wrote a book about it. Later, when the Lance Armstrong scandal came out, Landis declared he had cheated and had lied. He then wrote another book outing Lance.

The Good

I use the term “good” through somewhat clenched teeth. I am not sure that anything truly good comes from the use of doping.

However, when we make heroes out of athletes and celebrities, they sometimes do right things while other wrongs are happening.

LiveStrong, for instance. Over the duration of its existence, the foundation has generated more than $500 million worth of funds. The Livestrong Foundation states that its mission is “to inspire and empower” cancer survivors and their families as well as provide support to guide people through the cancer experience. Even the dopers have their moments.

About the author:

Dr. Patrick Larabee is a chiropractor, athlete, professor, and coach. He has been practicing for more than 20 years and teaches Anatomy and Physiology for the Boulder County Campus of Front Range Community College. He races nationally and internationally as a track cyclist.

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